It’s Official: I’m a Gardener

I’m sure some people think it’s strange that only now am I calling myself a gardener, but I finally feel I can call myself that after a full year of gardening.  I just became a member of the Hudson Valley Seed Library and ordered 10 packs of seeds from their online catalog (no paper = better for the environment) and I think I can officially say, now that I’ve completed that time-honored tradition of salivating over seeds (yup, there is such a thing for the gardener!) that I am one.

It’s February, and I’m hoping we’ve made it through the worst of the winter (which really hasn’t been bad at all).  I say this with fingers crossed because I remember past years for blizzards in March and April!  But I’m cautiously optimistic.

So, as I said before, I’m a new member of the Hudson Valley Seed Library, which sells heirloom seeds, many of the them regionally adapted and grown by New York farmers.  You can find heirloom seeds lots of places, from local gardening stores, to even big box stores (if that’s where you shop). But you have to be careful.  Make sure your seed packets actually say heirloom.

Why do this? What’s heirloom?

An heirloom plant, like the name seems to herald, is one that was grown in earlier times of history.  It can’t be grown easily in modern large-scale agriculture because it’s not resistant to disease, pests, temperature or the rigors of transportation like hybrid tomatoes are.

But because it can’t be grown on a large scale, it is perfect for the small gardener who can devote some time to cultivate it.  In return, you can get delicious and gorgeous fruits and veggies.  It beats the hybrids by a longshot when you compare.

But you have to keep a lookout for the word heirloom.  Those Burpees and other non-heirloom seeds are mass-produced and genetically modified.

A few good places to buy heirloom seeds:

I decided to join the Hudson Valley Seed Library because it’s local and it provides many varieties of New York-based plants. This is right in tune with the way we want to live.  Source locally as much as we can.

Finding seeds suitable to where you live is key.  Southern regional varieties probably wouldn’t do well where I live and vice versa.  This is why I’m excited to find an heirloom seed company that is close to where I live.

And finally, let me share with you what I bought, keeping in mind the garden I want to grow this year.

I’ve never grown tomatoes from scratch, and I’m sure that K is going to want to buy seedlings from the farmers market, but I really want to try growing these from seed, because I wasn’t able to find these as seedlings last year.

Amish Paste Tomatoes

Amish Paste tomatoes are known for their superior sauce flavor. They’re great for canning!

Fox Cherry Tomato

These are supposedly large cherry tomatoes, and great for using in salads.

Bloomsdale Spinach

There’s not many heirloom spinach varieties out there. We grew this spinach last year and it was delicious but we didn’t get a lot of spinach from it. I saved the seeds from last year but I’m afraid it won’t be enough (or they won’t germinate) so I ordered more just in case.

Rainbow Chard

Look how colorful that is! We tried growing Golden Chard (the yellow ones) last year and it didn’t fare too well (we’ve actually mulched it and we’ll see if we get any next year) but I’ve wanted to try growing Rainbow Chard since I read Animal, Vegetable Miracle, so let’s give it a try!

Di Ciccio Broccoli

This is not a NY-based heirloom. It’s an old Italian variety from the 1800s which is slightly thinner than the conventional broccoli we’re all used to eating.

Last year we ended up buying pickling cucumbers at the farmers market and pickling them ourselves. They came out awesome!  But this year, I’m going to try growing them myself. Not sure if it makes that much sense economically…we bought more than 2 quarts for $5, and 25 seeds here were $2.  Oh well, let’s see what happens!

Puebla Verde Tomatillo

I love tomatillos!! Can’t wait to try to make some salsa verde this summer!

Purple Podded Peas

How cool does that look? These are supposed to be great soup peas!

Hank’s X-tra Special Baking Bean

Not the most sophisticated name, but these look pretty cool.  I’m hoping they live up to their name and are great baked beans!

Aunt Molly’s Ground Cherry

Aunt Molly’s is an old heirloom cultivar of ground cherry that is supposed to do well in colder areas.  It’s also supposed to make a great jam!

So those are the seeds I just bought!  They will supplement the green beans, snowpeas, carrots, and other seeds I have saved from last year, plus any additional seedlings we buy from any local nurseries/the farmers market.

I have to get the hardware store and buy some growing bulbs now to start growing seedlings!  Next on my list, see of K can make me a seed-growing stand! Winter’s almost over!

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3 Responses

  1. Wow! All of those heirloom varieties sound/look amazing!

  2. Dude these look freaking awesome.

    And thanks for the heads up on the heirloom seeds – I’ll look for them in the garden center. I was thinking of perusing Hewitts later today, so now I’ll have some direction to go in. I also like buying local, and in general, eating the stuff that is fairly sustainable here.

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